Developed by OpenAI, ChatGPT became an instant hit and the fastest consumer app to reach 100 million monthly active users. The conversational chatbot owes its success not only to its ability to generate detailed, human-like responses to seemingly any question. Its flexibility is just as important. Since its release, people have been using it for everything from writing blog articles, social media posts, and even poetry to coding and planning holidays. The possibilities seem endless, and businesses of all industries want to take advantage.
Healthcare is no different. From assisting doctors to expediting clinical back-office workflows, there’s no lack of potential applications for ChatGPT in healthcare. This article will investigate the most promising ones and the challenges providers must consider when implementing ChatGPT for healthcare.
ChatGPT for healthcare: top use cases
To best understand the potential of ChatGPT in healthcare, it’s essential to make one thing clear: ChatGPT is not an automation solution. Rather than handling workflows independently, ChatGPT requires human input—prompts—to generate the requested output. That makes it a perfect tool for retrieving, processing, and creating text-based content.
However, automation and ChatGPT share a common general goal: boosting productivity. The benefits of ChatGPT for healthcare are similar, too. Providers and physicians can use it to reduce paperwork and become more available to patients. In addition, the model can help prevent medical billing errors and enhance patient communication with some supervision. All in all, ChatGPT can save time and money while improving patient outcomes.
Medical specialists can use ChatGPT and automation together for an even better effect. That’s why leading RPA companies like UiPath or Automation Anywhere are working on integrating OpenAI’s chatbot with their platforms.
With that said, how exactly can you use ChatGPT in healthcare?
Decision support for doctors
ChatGPT’s learning abilities are a crucial ingredient of its success. In healthcare, these abilities can be used to train the model with medical data. With that knowledge, ChatGPT can make data-based suggestions regarding diagnosis, treatment, and drug interactions or give insights for specific cases. By working together with AI, physicians can make more informed decisions faster.
Self-care tools for patients
Patients can use ChatGPT-based systems to identify and understand their health issues. Then, based on symptoms, ChatGPT suggests the following steps: further medical assistance, preventive measures, home remedies, or non-prescription drugs. With this guidance and all available information about their condition, patients can make better decisions, leading to more positive outcomes.
Similarly, ChatGPT can help patients keep track of their medicines. This could be particularly helpful for those who need to take several medications each day. For example, the model could provide detailed information about each medication, such as proper dosage and storage, as well as potential side effects or interactions with other meds. Then, if a drug is unavailable or the patient is intolerant to it, ChatGPT can suggest an alternative.
AI medication trackers could also be beneficial for physicians. For example, they could use it as an additional source of information about new medicines, defective drugs, and recalls or to quickly look up specific drugs.
AI-assisted medical coding
ChatGPT for healthcare isn’t limited to the physician’s office. A good example is medical coding. When performed manually, it’s a slow and repetitive process that requires precision. Any error can lead to claim denials or compliance violations.
Medical coders can use ChatGPT’s language processing capabilities to generate the most appropriate codes for specific symptoms and patient history. With that, providers will avoid costly medical coding mistakes and process large volumes of patient data in a shorter time.
According to Becker’s Hospital Review, physicians devote almost 2 hours daily on average to EHR-related processes. However, in the same study, 57% of doctors declared that administrative burdens reduce time spent with patients.
Many back-office tasks in healthcare involve writing, and ChatGPT is just the tool for that job. For example, the model can assist doctors by drafting letters to insurance companies, appeal denials, clinic notes, imaging reports, or patient instructions. Additionally, ChatGPT can use distinct tones of voice. This allows doctors to easily personalize the content, whether formal correspondence or rhymed medication instruction for younger patients.
Language-processing capabilities of ChatGPT make it excellent for translation, especially when it’s needed quickly. This enables better real-time communication between doctors and patients remotely and during visits. For patients, this also means more accessible access to medical information, such as diagnoses or medical instructions, and a better understanding of complicated medical terms.
Providers can use ChatGPT to determine quickly how urgent each case is. This is done by asking patients to answer questions about their condition, medical history, and symptoms. Based on this data, ChatGPT generates a triage summary that doctors can use to set priorities for treatment more efficiently.
ChatGPT in telemedicine
The need for telemedicine skyrocketed during the pandemic and shows no sign of stopping. McKinsey estimates that by July 2021, the demand for remote healthcare services has increased 38 times compared to pre-covid levels.
In this context, healthcare providers can significantly benefit from any solution allowing them to grant patients better access to their services. ChatGPT can be one of them and serve as each patient’s virtual assistant. Intelligent chatbots can provide patients with personalized medical advice and answers to questions regarding their treatment options, prescriptions, and condition. This will improve availability and more human-like remote interactions between providers and patients.
Remote patient monitoring
Remote patient monitoring (RPM) is a part of telemedicine that focuses on gathering patient data using monitoring devices such as sensors or wearables. In RPM, the role of ChatGPT is to provide doctors with insights into patient status based on the analysis of the collected data. In the case of high-risk patients, a chatbot-powered RPM solution can also send alerts to physicians when a patient’s condition worsens. This gives physicians more tools to track patients’ health and react quickly without hospitalizing them.
Mental health support
The demand for mental healthcare has soared in the past years, and it’s starting to exceed capacity. For example, 66% of psychologists surveyed by the American Psychology Association have reported increased demand for depression treatment.
Although ChatGPT can’t replace the human interaction and expertise of trained therapists, it can complement their services. Given the limited access to mental healthcare, the model can be used as a first line of contact for patients seeking guidance. This is achieved through personalized, conversation-based “talking therapy” that helps relieve stress and anxiety. In addition, ChatGPT can screen patients for mental illnesses and offer advice, resources, and referrals for further mental health services.
ChatGPT in medical research
In addition to its use in patient care and administrative work, ChatGPT has multiple applications in medical research.
Here, its strength lies in quickly processing large volumes of data such as articles, reports, and patient records. As the model goes through these sources, it extracts relevant information and turns it into structured insights that can inform further research. ChatGPT can also help researchers learn what they don’t know and generate ideas for future studies.
Regarding clinical trials, ChatGPT can analyze patient data for suitable participants. This will expedite recruitment and allow practices to target a more diverse population.
ChatGPT for healthcare: risks and challenges
If you think all that sounds too good to be true, you’re… partially correct. The potential for using ChatGPT in healthcare is very much there, but it raises some concerns.
First, there’s accuracy. Unfortunately, the algorithm tends to “hallucinate,” making up non-existing facts or even citations, so take all its suggestions with a grain of salt. Another thing to consider is that ChatGPT doesn’t pull data from the internet. Instead, the model was trained on many texts published before 2021. As a result, it still has limited knowledge of any facts that occurred afterward.
Another much more significant issue is security and data privacy. OpenAI admits that ChatGPT can use conversation data to improve, which runs the risk of privacy breaches. Even though the company doesn’t share any user data publicly and claims that all information is protected, it urges users not to share any personal information, including identifiable patient data. Still, these precautions are insufficient for many. Italy has lately famously become the first country to temporarily ban the advanced use of ChatGPT over concerns about data collection and potential misinformation.
Due to all that, ChatGPT in its current form shouldn’t be used without oversight—particularly when health or sensitive data is concerned. Still, even now, the model can significantly expedite many tasks provided specialist reviews and verifies the output.
Also, it’s important to remember that ChatGPT is still in its infancy, and OpenAI constantly works on advancing the model. For example, a new major update called GPT-4 was released in March 2023. It boasts higher accuracy, better reasoning capabilities, and image input, among other improvements. Similarly, existing regulations will have to be updated to ensure that AI tools like ChatGPT warrant the protection of user data.
All the possible use cases prove that ChatGPT may become a standard healthcare tool in the future. Physicians and medical staff are already starting to investigate this potential and benefit from the powerful bot.
Once ChatGPT overcomes all its current challenges, it will transform the industry, enabling faster, more accurate, cost-effective healthcare services and improving patient outcomes.
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